Jul 12 2017 8:30am

Gigi Garrett Excerpt: Her Fake Engagement

Gigi Garrett

Her Fake Engagement by Gigi Garrett

No artists, no smokers, no men with beards… Manhattan real estate broker Lottie Langerman feels confident that if she follows her long list of dating rules, she’ll meet The One and her life will unfold exactly as planned. Everything changes when her best friend decides to throw a fake bachelorette party—just to see what all the fuss is about—and Lottie reluctantly agrees to play the role of bride-to-be for a night.

Faking an engagement turns out to be more fun—and trouble—than Lottie could have imagined. Not only does her dream man think she’s taken, but Lottie keeps running into bearded Brooklyn jewelry designer Tyler, who breaks every single one of her rules...yet manages to get under her skin like no one else. Soon, Lottie finds herself at a crossroads where she must decide: Play it safe—or ditch the rules and follow her heart?

A Original Novella!

Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to bring you an excerpt from an H&H original novella! Get a sneak peek here before the story is available to you next week, July 19, 2017 here on H&H! 

After two drinks and one 400-point winning score at Skee-Ball, I somewhat reluctantly agree to put a penis straw in my drink.

After another drink at the video game arcade slash bar, I suck back red Jell-O shots with a stranger and then go on to win four consecutive games of Ms. Pac-Man.

When a guy at the next dive bar tells me I look like Saved by the Bell’s Kelly Kapowski, the girl of his childhood dreams, I surprise everyone—including myself—by smiling, flirting, reciting the Bayside cheer, and calling him “Zack Morris.”

By midnight we’ve arrived at our final stop—a beer garden—and I can tell that Elsa May is beyond thrilled by the results of this (faux) bachelorette party. “It’s like the crown has totally loosened you up,” she says, readjusting it in my hair. “This is so fun. I can’t wait for my turn.”

I fluff my crimped hair. “I’m only playing the part.”

“Tequila shots!” Mia cries out.

Jane shakes her head. “This is a beer garden. They don’t have shots, Mia. They don’t even have wine.”

“Buzzkill,” mutters Mia, and even Jane laughs.

“Over here,” a guy from the other side of the bar calls to us. “Come over here.” He points to some empty barstools.

At first, it was weird having all these strangers beckon us, but by now, we’re used to it. Usually, I just blend in with the crowd at bars and purposely try not to draw attention to myself. But for once, I’m not part of the background. Instead, I’m the scene. I’m not sure how to feel about it.

We make our way to the bar as a group. Before we even get there, one of the guys has ordered us a round of beers.

“Hey, Elsa May,” I say, seeing the bathroom sign out of the corner of my eye. “I’ll be right back.”

“Hurry,” she says, pointing at the guy and the drinks. “Soon it’ll be Cinderella’s metaphoric midnight, and we’ll all return to being who we actually are.”

I look at my ring. Fine: I’ll admit it’s exciting to have everyone think I’m taken. It seems as if guys actually open up more when they know that you’re about to get married. How ironic.

“Thank you, Elsa May,” I say. “I know I was a reluctant brat about this at first, but it’s been fun.”

She nods, knowingly.

After going to the bathroom and checking out my ridiculous appearance, I head back to the bar.

I feel a tap on my shoulder. “You dropped something,” a voice says.

I turn around and look up to see a tall, bearded guy in jeans and a T-shirt that says “Goonies.” What a fashionista. Strike.

He’s holding my crown. He dusts it off and passes it back to me.

“Thank you,” I say and give him a small curtsy. Who am I tonight? I think.

“Congratulations, by the way,” he says, pointing at my shirt.

“Thank you,” I say again. Rule Number Eight is no beards, but I find myself admiring his pretty blue eyes and long eyelashes, the drag-queen type that all girls covet and only boys seem to be born with.

“So, are you getting used to being the center of attention yet?” he asks. “My cousin just got married and she said that freaked her out the most.”

“Guys buying you free drinks? It’s pretty fun, surprisingly,” I say. “And I didn’t think that I’d like this whole thing at all.”

He holds up his beer. “You can have this. Haven’t opened it yet.”

I shake my head.

“It’s still cold,” he says, gently pressing the beer bottle to my cheek. “See?”

I shiver and step back, surprised. “You’re right. It’s freezing,” I say, wiping the moisture from my face. “But I’m really all set. I should probably take a break from drinking.”

He nods and points out to the small courtyard. “I was about to go outside and smoke if you want to join.”

“I don’t smoke,” I say. Another strike. (Rule Number Seven: no smoking.)

“Okay,” he says, shrugging. He starts to head out but turns around once he’s nearly out the door. “I’ll stand five feet away.” He salutes with his free hand. “Scout’s honor. I’d be honored to have the bachelorette’s company.”

“Okay,” I say, eager to have a minute away from the chaos of the bar.

He lights up his cigarette before we are even outside, but he does stand a respectable distance away.

“So when’s the big day?” he asks.

“March fourth.” I’ve said it so many times tonight that it almost rings true.

“That’s not very far away. Are you nervous?”

“Not at all,” I lie.

“You’re lucky then,” he says. “I’d be crapping my pants.” He holds up his hand. “Excuse my language.”

I lean against a brick wall. “So I’m guessing you’re not a fan of marriage,” I say. I know this guy’s type.

“I’m not sure it’s for me personally,” he admits.

(Rule Number Six: avoid all men who vocalize fear of commitment. People don’t change.)

I shake my head. “I think if you use your brain, don’t get completely hopped up on hormones, and pick someone logically, then marriage can work out very well.”

He laughs at me. “That’s the saddest description of marriage I’ve ever heard, darling,” he says. “That’s way sadder than even me being against the institution as a whole.”

“The name’s Lottie,” I say. Why doesn’t anyone believe love can be logical? The Earth has order and makes sense. Why can’t love?

“I figured you were Lottie,” he says with a smirk and nod toward my T-shirt. “I’m Tyler,” he says. He stomps out his cigarette with his boot and walks over to me. I think he’s going to shake my hand, but instead he reaches for left hand and examines my ring. His skin is rough, and I reactively breathe out deeply when he touches me. How long has it been since a guy has touched me?

I quickly retract my hand. Obviously, it’s been too long, judging by the diameter of my goosebumps.

“So nice to meet you,” I say and head for the door.

Tyler shakes his head. “I’m sorry. Just trying to make conversation. I didn’t mean to scare you. Let’s start over. I’m Tyler. Pleased to meet you, Lottie.” He looks at my hand again. “That’s a nicely cut diamond,” he says, pointing to it. “Big, but nice lines.”

I turn around and raise an eyebrow.

“I work in jewelry design,” he adds.

I start to laugh, until I realize he’s serious. Mostly, I’m glad he doesn’t have some hand fetish. “Oh, that’s cool,” I say. “I’ve never met anyone who does that. My friend works at Trinity Jewels, but she does the financing.”

He shrugs. “My grandmother had great taste in costume jewelry. Then I was an art major and sort of fell into it. It pays a lot better than selling still lifes of fruit in Union Square. A lot of jewelry design is done on the computer now, but I always draft by hand.”

I look at my ring. “So tell me this: you’re against marriage, but you design engagement rings?”

He shrugs. “It’s my bread and butter. People are always getting married. Divorced. Remarried. I may be an artist, but I’m also a capitalist.”

I laugh. He might not be my type, but he’s funny. But funny doesn’t matter. It’s not in my rule book. If you want funny, visit a comedy club.

“What do you do, Lottie?” Tyler asks.

“Real estate. People are always moving too.”

He pauses and twirls his mustache with his fingers. “Are you a broker? Any listings downtown?”

I nod. “That’s my specialty.”

Of course, I say that about every neighborhood.

“Can I have your card?”

I raise my eyebrows again and he shakes his head. “It’s for my brother. He recently got a big new fancy Wall Street job right out of college and needs an apartment. But he’s useless at life skills, so I’m in charge of helping him out. It’s been that way since forever.”

I fish through my purse and pull out my business cards. “Here you go.” I won’t pass up a potential broker’s fee. That would really make this bachelorette party worth it.

“Here,” he says, passing me a black-and-white card that reads: “Tyler King. Custom Jewelry Design. Gowanus Studio Space. Brooklyn, NY 11225.”

“Well,” I say, pausing to put the card in my purse. “I better get back to my party. You know, last night out and all.”

“One more question,” he says, and leans in a little too close. So close I can smell the way his cologne mixes with his cigarettes into something that smells all man. “How does it feel to know that you’re never going to kiss anyone else again without doing something wrong?”

Deep down inside, I’m truthfully more afraid that I’m going to keep kissing people and that none of them will be the one. “I like that thought,” I say, opening the door. “In fact, that sounds like the very best part to me.”

He smiles at me. He has perfect teeth. For a guy who’s totally not my type, that is.

“That’s really sweet,” he finally says. I find myself relaxing.

He looks at my ring again. “You know, if you ever want to get it reset, I’d be happy to draw up some designs for you.”

“Reset?” I nearly yell, tensing up again. “It’s the perfect engagement ring.” Even if it’s a faux engagement ring, I think. I point at him. “Who are you?” I shake my crimped hair.

Did all the manners leave Brooklyn when all the Whole Foods moved in?

“My mistake,” Tyler says. “I didn’t mean to insult you. I was only giving  professional advice. In my humble opinion, I don’t think the setting fits the diamond as well as it could.” He shrugs. “This happens all the time. Men are always so obsessed with finding the perfect diamond for their women that they forget all about the setting. Too often, the band doesn’t do anything for the. But if you love the ring, that’s all that matters.”

“I think my fiancé did a great job,” I say. “But thank you for your unsolicited advice. Hope you have a great night.”

I make sure to slam the courtyard door behind me. I’m insulted on behalf of my fake fiancé.

Elsa May hurries over from the bar. “Were you making out with that extremely hot guy outside? I know that’s against the official rules, but unofficially, I would be totally okay with it.”

I laugh. “I was getting fresh air.”

Elsa May rolls her eyes. “C’mon. I was spying like Nancy Drew on assignment. I saw him smoking, so I don’t think the air was very fresh. Just saying.”

All of sudden, I’m very aware of how warm I am despite the fact it was chilly outside. I feel tiny beads of sweat forming near my hairline.

“We were just making small talk,” I say, wiping at my brow. “He’s a jerk anyway. I would never make out with him. You know I’m not into the Brooklyn-artist type. And when have I ever made out with a guy at a bar, Elsa May?”

But for a second, I let myself imagine it. But only a second. C’mon, Lottie. Pull it together and drink some water. Like a gallon of it. The guy probably tastes like an ashtray. Totally not your type.

Elsa May turns and gives Tyler a look. “You’re right,” she says. “Not your kind of guy.” After a pause, she adds: “Too bad for you.”

I sigh and pull off my crown. “Can we go home now? I had a great time, but the room’s spinning.”

In the cab, I rest my head on the window and Elsa May leans on me. “Thanks for playing along, Lottie,” she says.

“Sure.” I look at my faux engagement ring, which I realize I forgot to give back to Mia. “Shit.” I pull out my phone to text her.

She replies back, “No worries. You’re not actually Cinderella. It won’t turn into a pumpkin. Please just keep it safe until tomorrow.”

I admire it as the cab flies across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ll admit I’m little sad that the game is over—that the ring isn’t really mine, that Daniel doesn’t actually exist, and that I’ll wake up tomorrow alone.

Copyright © 2017 by Gigi Garrett.
Learn more about or order a copy of Her Fake Engagement by Gigi Garrett, available August  29, 2017:

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Since childhood, Gigi Garrett has loved playing with and rearranging the 26 letters of the alphabet. When she's not imagining and writing fictional lives, she's probably chasing her kids around or thinking about pizza. She lives near the beach and believes the ocean fixes almost everything. She loves to hear from readers.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
I'd happily read on! Thanks for an enjoyable excerpt.
2. R216
Thank you for this excerpt. Definitely want to read more about Lottie.
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